The 200-Year Plan: Disciple-making
ADDENDUM as of 2/5/09: While I am still excited about the materials I discuss in this post, it is with great sadness that I feel compelled to note I have discovered there are reasons for caution with respect to the sources referenced herein. With respect to Vision Forum Ministries and Doug Phillips, I call your attention to the series of articles at Ministry Watchman and Jen’s Gems. And with respect to Geoff Botkin, see Who is Geoffrey Botkin? at the Under Much Grace blog.
In describing how he drafted his own 200-Year Plan, Geoff Botkin said two considerations motivated him in his quest:
- He wanted to make sure he was discipling his own children.
- He wanted to do whatever he could to ensure that he, and his descendents after him, engage in effective multigenerational discipling for the causes he believes in.
As I listened to Botkin speak, it suddenly struck me: Sarita and I have been trained in a certain way, and we enjoy a legacy of training, that only a very small portion of the American Christian population, and an even smaller proportion of the American population at large enjoys. Botkin refers to this training with the word discipleship.
Sarita and I received our training through The Navigators. The emphasis of our trainers was always on discipleship, finding “faithful men”–disciples–whom we could teach, so that they would be equipped “to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Even more than “teaching” these disciples in some kind of academic sense of the term, we were told to look at the example of Jesus, Who, according to Mark 3:14, “appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach.”
First, they were with Him, and then He sent them out to preach.*
And here’s something that just struck me about disciples being with: In Deuteronomy 6:6 and 7, God tells us that we are supposed to talk with our children about His commandments, His wisdom, “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”–in other words, all the time and concerning all things.
And that, I realized, is really at the root of the whole homeschooling movement (a movement in which my wife and I are deeply involved). . . . Now, as the kids get older and move out on their own, discipleship–or disciple-making–is really at the root of legacy planning, too. Or if it’s not, it ought to to be.
Homeschooling–and legacy planning–has to do with passing on a mission, vision, purpose . . . and plan.
The work of one generation ought not to end when that generation dies. Instead, it should carry on down through many generations and even gain power as the number of descendants multiplies.
[Doug Phillips emphasizes this "power of multiplication" as he does the math: "Suppose you have three children, and each of those three has three children, and so on and so forth down through eight generations or 200 years. How many descendents would you have in the eighth generation?" he asks. if I've done my math correctly, and you count your three children as the first generation, the eighth generation should have just shy of 6,600 members. increase the number of children, and the math becomes truly mind-boggling. Phillips, for example, has eight children. If you count his eight as Generation #1, and if every child in every generation had eight children--an event that Phillips acknowledges has never happened in history, and, honestly, he really doesn't expect to happen in his own family; but if it did . . . --by the eighth generation, he would have just shy of 17 million progeny. In the eighth generation alone! (How many from generations 5, 6, or 7 will still be alive when Generation 8 is rising to power?) That's a lot of manpower for a cause . . . if they can all be committed to a common purpose.]
So how do you maximize the number of descendants who will hang together to achieve a common purpose? First step: you take explicit and deliberate action to try to instill that common vision, mission, and purpose within Generation #1.
And the first thing you do to make it possible for you to instill these things? Choose your disciples. (I hope they will be your own children.) And then work it out so that, as Jesus did with his disciples, they can be with you, so they can “catch” the values and thoughts and memories that motivate you.
* Want a good book about disciple-making? The Navigators encouraged us to study Walter A. Henrichsen’s Disciples Are Made, Not Born. Good stuff!
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